The podcast is more and more now an effective, new, fun communication tool. You can listen to it on any device, and in the world of Italian Americans there are now many different ones. Even We the Italians started his, first in video and then also in audio. The first podcast of the Italian-American world was born a few years ago. I was lucky enough to meet Dolores and Anthony at a NIAF gala, and I immediately understood that they were two dynamic and intelligent people: we became friends.
Confirming that I wasn't wrong about them, their podcast has grown, it's structured. And it became that of a team of young and talented protagonists. I confess I've been a devoted fan of Italian American Podcast from the beginning. I find it wonderful the atmosphere that the guys have been able to create: you joke about it, but you give space to many real and important topics. It's an initiative that I love very much, which is why I'm happy to host the entire cast of the IAP here on We the Italians. A special thanks goes to them, and to my friend Stephanie Longo who was instrumental in the success of the interview. Thanks guys: stay safe, and long live the Italian American Podcast!
How and when was the Italian American Podcast born?
Anthony Fasano and Dolores Alfieri Taranto created The Italian American Podcast in 2015, and it has since become the first and most engaging podcast dedicated to helping Italian Americans learn about and celebrate their brilliant heritage.
The vision was simple—to chronicle the traditions and stories of the heritage they both cared so deeply about.
With that shared passion at its foundation, what began as a friendly project quickly grew into something greater, and with each new episode the audience grew. Italian Americans were hungry for the honest and thoughtful conversations that became the show’s calling card.
Like every good Italian family, the podcast team began to grow in 2018, when “The Italian American Power Hour” was born, complete with a cast of characters that round out the family-dinner-table feel.
John M. Viola, Rossella Rago, and Patrick O’Boyle were joined by Dolores and Anthony in exploring an all-new style of show—unfiltered, raucous, round-table conversations digging deep into the “hows and whys” of who we are-- a communal therapist couch for the Italian American psyche!
The audience loved the new format as a complement to Anthony and Dolores’s one-on-one journalistic style of episodes. What started out as two sides of the same coin quickly began to mature into a new phase in the young history of The Italian American Podcast.
Now, the original Italian American Podcast is heading into the future with an enlarged team, a new style, and an ever-deepening commitment to bringing the heart of the Italian American experience to the 25 million Americans of Italian descent who are lucky enough to have been born Italian.
In my numerous interviews, I have verified how all adult Italian Americans are concerned to ensure that their children and grandchildren continue their activities proudly in defense of Italian culture and heritage. You five are all young: do you have a strategy to involve Italian American other girls and boys? How can we help you?
John: One of the things we found so wonderful about this platform is how much it can be enjoyed both by individuals of all ages and by families together. We've been blown away by the responses from people who wait to listen with their grandparents or parents. As a matter of fact, last week, we had a woman tell us that her nine-year-old daughter shared that ours was her favorite podcast because we all talked over one another just like her family did. For us, that’s a real badge of honor. Podcasting is a medium that's intrinsically blind to age. It's a phenomenal way to reach all kinds of people. We think our content and the kinds of projects that we work on, which we try to make both educational and entertaining, appeals to all age groups. You, our friends at We The Italians, have done a wonderful job of spreading our story, not only among our own community, but also in Italy. You’re already helping us more than you know, you’re introducing the world to the incredible successes and interesting stories of who our community is.
You are on the East Coast: do you have plans to “conquer” the rest of the United States too?
John: If by “conquer,” you mean eat and laugh our way through the Italian communities west of the eastern seaboard, then consider us Attila the Hun! We're more than excited to take ourselves out of our hometowns and the uniquely tri-state Italian American experience that we grew up with. If you watch our new YouTube series, “Greetings from Italian America,” you'll see that we've begun to make our way, little by little, outside with visits to places like New Orleans, Louisiana, and New Haven, Connecticut. Obviously, none of us could have predicted where the world would be in terms of the limitations on travel today, but we had scheduled multiple road trips across the country to Italian American communities, both large and small, in order to not only engage guests for the Podcast, but create content for our YouTube channel as well. We're really hopeful that as this crisis abates, we'll be able to get right back on track and find every community from New York’s millions and millions of Italian Americans to the 100% Italian town of 15 residents in Shoup, Idaho, which we mentioned in a recent Podcast episode.
Your content is always very interesting: I was particularly impressed by your survey. Can you tell me what it is about and what are the most important results?
John: For those interested in our 2020 Italian American Identity Survey, I highly recommend they go back and listen to our four-part series in which we digest and discuss the results. The survey was really born out of a project that has been brewing in my mind since my days at NIAF. I always felt that we talked about the Italian American community as a monolithic entity when, in reality, it's made up of people from all parts of Italy, living in all parts of the United States, transcending all types of demographic strata. I've always wanted to do what we could to see where the similarities in our experience were, and find what were the staples that defined Italian Americans of all types.
The best thing about the survey was that with very little outreach we received more than 1,600 responses. Even though we made the survey about double the length that the survey builder recommended, almost everyone still completed the entire thing. We were thrilled to see how many people still gather as a family on Sundays and share a meal together, or the number of people who have gone out and decided to reclaim the Italian language or their original languages. Every answer was of incredible value and helped us to better understand the community that we claim to serve. Here are the links to the four survey episodes: the number 1; the number 2; the number 3; the number 4.
Dolores and Anthony, you're the "parents" of the podcast, the ones who started it. It is a great merit, and so is the extension of the successful initiative to others. Often, unfortunately, in Italian communities, there are jealousies that are probably a bit typical of our Italian DNA. Please describe our readers the advantage of having opened your creature to other successful and talented friends like you.
Dolores and Anthony: We had a lot of fun growing The Italian American Podcast. What started out as an innocent, simple way to record some of our own family traditions turned into a myriad of amazing conversations, countless inspirational emails from listeners, and relationships with listeners who now live in an online group we call The New Neighborhood - A Place for Italian Americans. However, what many people don't see is all of the work behind the scenes that it takes to coordinate, record, produce and deliver a podcast of this nature. As the show grew, it became impossible for both of us to balance the show with our 9 to 5 jobs and our families, and so we made a conscious decision to seek help. John, Rossella and Pat were easy choices for us to reach out to as they are all friends and all very active in the Italian American Community and have built their own audiences and fans through the work they have done. There is a great philosophy that it is better to have a small part of something big, than all of something small, so we couldn't have been more thrilled to share the podcast experience with friends, and the decision has proven to be one of the best we've made. The more Italian Americans we can inspire, the better!
John, you're certainly a leader and an innovator. You’ve been the youngest President of NIAF, now you’re a member of this wonderful podcast, and you also started a new venture in which you and Rossella produce videos with "Greetings From Italian America". What do you see in your future, in that of the Italian American Podcast and in that of the Italian American community?
John: What can I say? As much as I tried to find a real job, I always come back to being a professional Italian American in the end. I think that the future of the podcasts and the future of the community are tied in an unbreakable bond. We always hope that the Podcast, despite our regional limitations, is one that engages Italian Americans everywhere and of all types with respect, curiosity, and passion. I believe that as the Italian American community continues to evolve away from representing a monolithic bloc, that it’s the individuals and their unique versions of our Italian American heritage that we need to speak to and understand. The community is moving away from life in enclave neighborhoods and regular social gatherings, but it will continue to grow and thrive in the digital world. We hope that we can evolve forward with the best of what we are in the new media and for a new generation.
Rossella, to me, you're the master of Italian cuisine: “Cooking with Nonna” is a huge success. But you are also the living example that Italian cuisine allows you to stay in great shape. Can you tell our Italian American readers a secret of yours?
Rossella: I’m afraid there is no great secret. Only great shape wear.
I really just try to listen to my body and live my life with balance. When it’s time to feast, I feast. When it’s time to slow down, I take some time off from pasta and focaccia. I believe it’s impossible to be a truly sensual woman and not enjoy food. In the end, I think Sophia Loren said it best. “I’d rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size zero.”
Patrick, I've been dealing with the Italian American culture for years, I'm really fascinated by people like you who have a great knowledge of a subject that is to me very dear and important. What is the most curious and original aspect of your experience as a connoisseur of the Italian American world? Something very few people know about…
Patrick: The thing I find most fascinating is that there are very old communities of Italian Americans that someone from the New York metropolitan area would never have realized that they exist, places like Kansas, West Virginia, Nebraska, Colorado, etc. These communities are trapped in amber, in the very best sense. They’ve maintained a unique amalgamated culture that’s reflective of the periods when and the places from which their immigration originated. The absolute biggest weakness of the Italian American communities in the major cities of the American East Coast is our collective ignorance of these communities. They have yet to receive their due.
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